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Man United ready to splash £61.4m for the return of Pogba

By Paul Hirst

Manchester United boss Louis van Gaal has no qualms about breaking the British transfer record again.

Having spent £59m of United's money on Angel di Maria a few months ago, the Dutchman has been given the green light to spend big again.

And reports emerging from Italy suggest that United have already submitted an €80m (£61.41m) bid to Juventus for midfielder Paul Pogba - the man who left Old Trafford for nothing less than three years ago.

The French international has never forgiven former United manager Sir Alex Ferguson for allowing his contract to run down.

It was Ferguson's apparent reluctance to believe in the player, and give him the chance to demonstrate his talents in the first team, that led him to feel such antipathy towards Fergie.

Indeed, United tried to re-sign Pogba a year ago, when David Moyes was in charge, but the player gave them no encouragement, citing Ferguson's continued presence at the club as an impediment to any return.

Pogba (right, playing for United) was given only 67 minutes of Premier League football by Ferguson in the 2011-12 campaign, and he did not start a solitary first-team match for United before rejecting a new contract at Old Trafford and taking the Italian club's more lucrative offer.

Pogba's progress in the past three years led Juventus goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon to say yesterday that United must have been "blind" to let the player out of their grasp.

"He is one of those players who leaves you speechless," said Buffon, who believes that Pogba can be just as good as legendary French midfielder Patrick Vieira.

And Pogba, who is still only 21-years-old, has made it clear that he would now consider a move back to United, especially now that Ferguson appears to have retired to the back benches.

It would certainly be unusual for a club to break a transfer record for a player they once let go for nothing, but Chelsea had no qualms about re-signing anchor midfielder Nemanja Matic from Benfica, three years after they let him go as a makeweight in the transfer of David Luiz.

United are unlikely to trouble Manchester City and Chelsea in the title race this season, but the American owners have seen enough momentum under Van Gaal to sanction another spending spree.

Pogba's return in the January window would be a bonus because United are confident of landing him in the close season. Juventus would not be able to resist a £60m-plus bid.

Chelsea, meanwhile, have accelerated talks over Fiorentina winger Juan Cuadrado as Jose Mourinho prepares for the possible January exits of Mohamed Salah and Andre Schurrle.

The Chelsea manager has identified a right-sided forward as a priority signing for the summer with Cuadrado one of their top targets. And Roma's desire to sign Salah and interest from Wolfsburg and Borussia Dortmund in Schurrle has prompted the London club to bring forward their plans and line up Cuadrado for a January move.

Chelsea's January bid for Cuadrado is dependent on either or both of Salah and Schurrle leaving this month. Should the pair stay at Stamford Bridge, then the Colombian's move will be delayed until the end of the season.

Cuadrado was named in Fiorentina's starting line-up for their Copa Italia game against Atlanta last night, which underlined the fact that the Italian club are willing to hold out for the full £26.8m release clause that is in his contract.

Fiorentina coach Vincenzo Montella made it clear that he did not want to lose Cuadrado by saying: "As of today, there is no possibility Cuadrado will leave Fiorentina."

Sources in Italy, however, claim that Cuadrado's agent is due in London for talks with Chelsea over the 26-year-old who finished the World Cup with the most assists - equal with Germany's Toni Kroos.

Predominantly a right winger, Cuadrado would inject greater pace into the Chelsea forward line and his crossing ability would be appreciated by striker Diego Costa.

This is Cuadrado's third season at Fiorentina, but the player has apparently expressed a desire to leave the club and has previously attracted the interest of Manchester United.

Chelsea have worked under a one-out one-in policy for some time now in a bid to meet Financial Fair Play rules.

Roma want to pay a small fee to take Salah on loan for the rest of the season with the option to then sign him for around £12m in the summer.

Wolfsburg are understood to be prepared to pay £23m for World Cup winner Schurrle, but the German international would prefer to join Dortmund.

Belfast Telegraph


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